Category Archives: Caribbean Plus Lit News

Literary news of interest from the Caribbean and wider world

My Books – FYI

So, you can read about me here on the blog, but, in case you didn’t know, these are my books – hope you’ll check them out.

books 2018

Children’s

Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – what happens when an Arctic seal gets stranded in the Caribbean

With Grace – A girl goes up a hill in this modern Caribbean faerie tale

Teen/Young adult

Musical Youth – A group of teens work on an Anansi production, and drama ensues, in this Burt Award winning title

The Boy from Willow Bend – It’s a hard-knock life for a boy coming of age in a dead end alley in the Caribbean

Adult

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings – the original romantic novella packaged with a mix of other published poems and short fiction

Oh Gad! – a US raised woman returns to her Caribbean roots

FYI, I also writing, editing, coaching, workshop/course facilitation services.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad! ). All Rights Reserved.

 

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History Matters

“The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) has established a regional committee that will be tasked with recommending ways in which the syllabus for Caribbean History could be revived to make it more attractive to students.

This is in an effort to address the falling numbers of students sitting the exam each year, which the regional examination body highlighted as a major concern in 2016. Myrick Smith, the CXC registrar for Antigua and Barbuda, said, on the weekend, that Alan Cobley, vice chancellor at the University of the West Indies (UWI), received the mandate in December during a meeting of CXC’s council in St. Kitts.

He said delegates at that meeting made several recommendations to improve the syllabus and it is now up to Cobley and his team to determine the next course of action. The recommendations include: making Caribbean History compulsory, pushing governments and education ministries into taking history more seriously and placing more emphasis on training for history teachers.” Read more.

I found this article troubling when I read it today because I think history matters; I especially think it matters if you are from – as we are primarily in the Caribbean – the descendants of people who were enslaved for hundreds of years, for generations, in this Caribbean. I think we need to know who we were before that i.e. our African history, how our journey shapes or was shaped by others i.e. World history, and how we became who we are today i.e. our Caribbean history. I think knowing your history informs not only the decisions you make today but the passions that fire you. I frankly didn’t learn much beyond plantation society during my secondary school days but I remain to this day a student of World, African, and Caribbean history. On the point of Caribbean history though, if we only knew. I question, for instance, how quick we would be to fritter away land rights if we understood how hard-earned it was, how tightly we would hold workers’ rights if we understood its role in building the institutions that hold up our society today, how much more we would understand our potential if we could see the men and women who emerged from our humble societies to greatness, how much more certain would we be of who we are if we understood who we have been (community, culture, character, values, identity, all of that). Our history tells us about ourselves and there is so much about ourselves we still don’t know. My two cents about ways to make history more engaging include field trips and tours to historically relevant sites (I’ve done it in writing and media workshops and seen how the participants’ curiosity opens up as they look at somewhere they’ve never seen or somewhere they are seeing with new eyes),

DYA

One of my youth media workshops included a field trip to former plantation Betty’s Hope…but there is so much more to explore.

introduce audio-visual presentations (if there isn’t local media content and there should be options include youtube or creating content as class projects), creating content as class projects (have the students engage with the material in tactile, interactive, and imaginative ways), getting creative (Brenda Lee Browne’s Just Write held a workshop last year about building creative content from our historical reality, something like that); in fact, on that last point, I’m considering making our next Wadadli Pen Challenge a historical fiction challenge with the double challenge that it be experimental (to break with the obvious clichés). I’m thinking on it and will probably discuss with my partners. Bottom line though, history is important but it’s not just dates to be remembered; it’s lives that were lived and as far as Caribbean history is concerned, it’s lives with a direct link to our own. If we agree that we matter then surely our history does too.

 

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Caribbeans Awarded

Just wanted to shout out some recent awardees from the Caribbean. Beginning all the way back in November with US-based Haitian writer Edwidge Dandicat winning the Nestadt International Prize for Literature, described as the “American Nobel”. For Dandicat, winning has become something of a habit. In recent years, prizes have included the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (Trinidad and Tobago), the Association of Caribbean Writers Grand Prize for Literature (Guadeloupe), the Langston Hughes Medal, a MacArthur Genius Grant, honorary doctorates from the University of the West Indies, Yale University, and Smith College plus many earlier awards including the distinction of being an Oprah’s Book Club pick.

More recently UK-based Jamaican writer Kei Miller – a past Bocas and Forward prize winner, among other accolades – has been announced as a winner of the Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence. We actually mentioned this one before.

Congrats are due as well to Ghana-born, Jamaica-raised, US-based poet Kwame Dawes whose previous awards include Forward, Pushcart, and Hurston Wright plus a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others, is one of three newly named chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

Congratulations to them all.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

 

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Mailbox – Congrats, Kei

With thanks to St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee for bringing this to my attention, congratulations to Jamaican-born, UK-based writer Kei Miller on his win of this year’s Ansa prize in Arts and Letters. The Trinidad and Tobago company continues to award distinguished Caribbean citizens in several areas. Kei – whose work I have written about on this blog before and am a fan of – “is a poet, writer, scholar and blogger whose work includes three novels, four poetry collections, a short story collection and a book of essays and prophesies. He holds a PhD from Glasgow University and is now a professor of creative writing at the University of Exeter. Miller’s work engages Caribbean themes of race, identity and immigration. His book Augustown won the 2017 Bocas Prize, and his short story collection The Fear of Stones was shortlisted for the 2007 Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize.”

Congrats to Kei and all the winners. Read more here.

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Caribbean Voices: a History

Caribbean Voices is a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme that was critical to the establishment and amplification of Caribbean literature. It didn’t give Caribbean literature a voice (your voice is your own) but it gave it a megaphone.

The programme, initially Calling  the West Indies (1939), emerged first as a way of connecting Caribbean people, fighting for the ‘motherland’ during World War II, to each other and to home. It was rebranded as Caribbean Voices in 1943 with Jamaican Una Marson as the producer.

The programme spotlighted literary works by Caribbean writers.  Through this programme –  and through the contributions of regional literary presses like Barbados’ Bim, started in 1942, and Guyana’s Kyk-Over-Al, started in 1945 – a Caribbean literature was born. Whereas, pre-Caribbean Voices, people largely wrote in isolation from each other. Once the programme got going people got to hear the writing from other islands, moving us from a nation literature to a Caribbean literature and given that Caribbean Voices operated out of the BBC, Caribbean literature was becoming a part of world literature. Scripts were sent up to the UK to be edited and then broadcast back to the Caribbean. This programme also provided opportunity for literary development given the editing and critiquing of the stories. Marson was succeeded in 1946 as programme producer by Irishman Henry Swanzy. It must be noted, as well, that by 1948, the Windrush generation (mass migration of English-speaking Caribbean people i.e. British West Indians to the ‘motherland’ i.e. England) began establishing a formidable and transformative Caribbean presence in the UK. The programme blossomed and the emerging Caribbean voices blossomed through it. It provided a platform for writers and work for them as editors and reviewers etc.; it paid writers (!).

So, through all of this, Caribbean Voices helped lay the foundation for Caribbean literature. Given the reach of the medium of radio (and given that this programme was backed by the BBC), it was critical; one might even say, revolutionary. Jan Carew of Guyana, Andrew Salky of Jamaica, Sam Selvon of Trinidad, George Lamming of Barbados, Derek Walcott of St. Lucia are just some of the early writers – now known as the foundation (and legends) of the Caribbean literary canon – to have come through this programme. To quote the BBC retrospective that inspired this post, “They felt encouraged to keep on writing…they were writers of the Caribbean.” They are today considered to be the classics of Caribbean literature.

V. S. Naipaul was editor for a couple years after Swanzy – and the programme speaks to how his stint helped him to develop his craft to become the Caribbean literary legend that he is. The special explores how the programme, which ran up to 1958, shaped Caribbean literature; in positive ways and in ways that bears some re-examining as the programme touches on, particularly in its framing of the idea of what Caribbean literature ‘should be’.

It’s an interesting listen, if you have the time. This one sort of summarizes in roughly 30 minutes. There is a two parter as well, the first part covering much of the same ground as the previous link, the Caribbean Voices’ impact and the second part looking at what’s happened since up to the early 2000s. The retrospective was produced by Colin Grant and ran in 2009.

Through what platforms do we engage with Caribbean literature today?

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

 

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Teaser Tuesday (2nd January 2018)

Happy New Year.

I hope yours got off to a good start. I feel like mine did, in no small part because I woke up writing this and something much darker, and incomplete.

And now I’m doing  Teaser Tuesday which I found due to Brainfluff.  It’s one of the memes I do to keep networked with the blogging community, and also because I love books and bookish activities.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purplebooker.com.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here goes.

Current read Nectar in a Sieve 417IMwNNgEL__SX303_BO1,204,203,200_ by Kamala Markandaya.

“She is endowed with beauty,” Old Granny said. “It will make up for a small dowry – in this case.”

And

‘Its rich heavy folds make her look more slender than she was, made her look a child…I darkened her eyes with kohl and the years fell away more; she was so pitifully young I could hardly believe she was to be married today.’

A bit more – This book’s synopsis describes it as a novel “about a woman’s struggle to ind happiness in a changing India” and the story so far bears that out. “Married as a child bride to a tenant farmer she had never met, Rukmani works side by side in the field with her husband to wrest a living from a land ravaged by droughts, monsoons, and insects.” It is written by Kamala Markandaya, a pseudonym used by Kamala Purnaiya Taylor, an Indian novelist and journalist born in Bangalore, India in 1924. Nectar in a Sieve was published in 1954. My active reading pile is kind of scarily high right now but though it’s been slow at times, and the narrative voice really quiet, this one has held my interest. Interesting insights to a culture I don’t know a lot about. Where I am now Rukmani  is marrying off her very young daughter much as she was married off at a very young age – and I was particularly touched by the sections I pulled. I don’t know how this ends as I’m only up to chapter 6.

How about you, what are you reading?

And have you voted for your favourite Antiguan and Barbudan book of 2017?

Want to work on your writing? Register for my new workshop series.Promo Flyer corrected

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

 

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Mailbox – St. Lucia committed to cultural curation

I have to say St. Lucia is doing amazing work in the area of research and documentation. Earlier this year, I read and blogged Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an Anthology of Reviews compiled and edited by John Robert Lee and Kendel Hippolyte. Earlier still,  I skimmed and blogged The Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing Poetry, Prose, Drama by St. Lucian Writers 1948 – 2013 compiled and edited by John Robert Lee with assistance from Anna Weekes. You may also recognize John Robert Lee’s name as the author of Discovering Caribbean Literature in English: a Select Bibliography, which is archived on this site and was for years its most viewed/used resource. It’s worth noting that Lee, in addition to being a respected poet in his own right, does a lot behind the scenes to keep the Caribbean literary arts networked – keeping those of us in the network informed about significant developments in our field. It’s also worth noting that there is public and private sector buy-in to what he’s doing as far as research and development is concerned. For instance, this new collection (another John Robert Lee production), news of which has landed in my inbox, is “made possible by the generous financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Jubilee Trust Fund and FLOW….and printed by the National Printing Corporation.” I don’t believe that’s insignificant.

Here’s the release re the new book in full.

Mount Pleasant - full cover

To celebrate the 70th birthday of Msgr. Patrick ‘Paba’ Anthony, a number of commemorative events have been held, including the renaming of the Folk Research Centre to the “Msgr. Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre.”

The FRC has also published a book of selected essays on St. Lucian culture in honour of its founder. The FRC was formally opened in 1973.

The book is titled The Road to Mount Pleasant, and is compiled and edited by John Robert Lee, St. Lucian writer, who is the FRC’s Publications Editor and Embert Charles, the first Executive Director of the FRC.

Its publication is made possible by the generous financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Jubilee Trust Fund and FLOW. It is designed by Viannie Aimable and printed by the National Printing Corporation.

In his introduction, Embert Charles writes that:

“The articulation of the issues of dynamism and goals of development in the St. Lucian National Cultural Policy mirrored the initial objectives of the Folk Research Centre which was established in 1973, soon after the ordination of Patrick Angus Butcher “Paba” Anthony into the Catholic priesthood. It was no coincidence that the Folk Research Centre and to some extent Paba himself were involved in the development of the policy, but importantly have been engaged very actively in research, documentation and promotion of Saint Lucian culture.  He celebrated his 70th birthday on August 6th 2017 and the publication of this collection of essays is a tribute to his life as cultural missionary and the embodiment of the project towards building of a Caribbean civilization. The collection, which by no means is presented as a comprehensive study of Saint Lucian culture, does attempt to provide some facts and thoughts on the various aspects of the traditional and contemporary life of the Saint Lucian people.”

The contributors are all well-known and recognized for their contribution to the research and documentation of Saint Lucian culture. They are: Msgr. Patrick A.B. Anthony himself, Lindy Ann Alexander, George ‘Fish’ Alphonse, Embert Charles, McDonald Dixon, George Goddard, Kendel Hippolyte, Alcess Ismael, Dr. Kentry JnPierre, Marcian W.E. Jean-Pierre, Dr. Didacus Jules, John Robert Lee, Dame Pearlette Louisy, Vladimir Lucien, Dr. Anthea Octave, Professor Gordon Rohlehr, Kennedy Samuel, Harold Simmons 1914-1966, Professor Hazel Simmons-McDonald, Professor Karl R. Wernhart.
The subjects range from essays by Msgr. Anthony on the role of culture, the Kèlè ceremony, Popular Catholicism and the art work of the late Sir Dunstan St. Omer – to researched writing by other writers on culture and development, the Kwéyòl language, Jounen Kwéyòl, the Flower Festivals, St. Lucian folklore, St. Lucian calypso. As well, a number of St. Lucian poets are included, with poems in English and Kwéyòl.

The cover illustration is titled “Mr. Wo-Wo” and is the work of the late artist and cultural hero Dunstan St. Omer (1927-2015).

FRC’s Executive Director Hilary La Force believes that this latest FRC publication will be a valuable information, study and research source for students, researchers and visitors who are desirous of learning more about various aspects of Saint Lucian culture. Ms. Floreta Nicholas, Chairperson of the FRC, writes in the book’s Foreword, “My hope is that this handbook to Saint Lucian Culture, recording as it does, “The Road to Mount Pleasant,” the home of the FRC and all it represents, would become required reading for all interested in our life and culture, and above all, for our young Saint Lucians.”

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

 

 

 

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